Patna: Bihar government has sent a strong letter to National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) seeking to know why it did not turn up at Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) where victims of the Dusshera stampede were rushed.
"We have sent a letter to the commandant of 9th battalion of NDRF based at Bihta in Patna district seeking to know reason for not sending team to PMCH," Vipin Kumar Singh, the officer on special duty in the Disaster Management Department told PTI today.
The OSD, who according to the letter had spoken to NDRF commandant Vijay Sinha over telephone for sending its team to PMCH, said the state government was at a loss to understand why the central disaster agency did not respond to the call.
A senior NDRF officer defended the action saying maintenance of law and order was not in its mandate.
"The commandant got a call on his mobile at 8:40 pm in the evening of October 3 asking to send a team to Gandhi Maidan where many people lost their lives due to falling of something," he said on condition of anonymity.
The stampede outside Gandhi maidan near Ramgoolam roundabout on October 3 after 'Ravana vadh' (killing of the demon king) had taken place around 7 pm in the evening.
Acting promptly on the request, the NDRF team in the service of the district administration for immersion of goddess Durga at Gaighat was asked to go there, he said adding the team battled heavy traffic congestion on the way which hampered its movement.
"Later on in another telephonic message the commandant was told to send the NDRF team to PMCH. On this they (the disaster management department) were told that NDRF has no role in PMCH and in maintenance of law and order," the NDRF officer said.
NDRF, he said, has always been in the service of the state government whenever there has been a need. "But we can perform only the task for which we have the mandate."
About 35-40 NRDF personnel were in the service of the district administration for immersion of Durga idols at Gaighat on Ganga river from the afternoon of October 3 till the wee hours of Sunday, he added.